As a kid, I went to camp every summer and loved every second of it.
Today, as a parent, I send my own kids to camp and hope that they come back with all the memories of fun times that I did.
Maybe it’s because so many of us grown ups went to camp as kids that the idea of camp for grown ups is starting to catch on. And what better way to go to camp than a camp just for runners!
At Runners Connect, we put two or three running camps on a year and I’ve been lucky enough to be a coach at just about all of them. They are truly highlights of my year. We’ve done San Diego in February, North Carolina in August, and in September we’ll head out for our first international running camp in southern Portugal.
Oh yeah, I’m excited about that one!
If you’ve joined us on one of these trips or have gone with a different company, you know how awesome they are. And if you’ve never been before, I’m hoping you’ll want to by the time you are done reading!
Each camp and each company will differ in focus and features, but in general, the idea behind running camp is to go someplace beautiful and run with other runners. You get to surround yourself with like-minded people who share your passion about running, because let’s face it, if your significant other just isn’t into running like you are, he or she is probably pretty sick of hearing about every last detail of your workouts.
But not at running camp! We love to talk about everything you can possibly imagine that has to do with running.
So while I’m sure that you love your spouse, not being able to share your every last split on your tough workout or the intricate details of your marathon fueling plan, can sometimes make you feel a little flat. But once you are around other runners for a few days, you get to share and connect with people who really get the running side of you. And it’s likely you’ll make close friendships with people that you’ve only just met.
So of course, you’ll go running at running camp. That’s a given. But many camps also provide much more than that, because, even if we’d like to, we can’t run all day long.
So what else will you be doing? Again, this depends on the camp, but many camps offer classes, lectures, coaching, and more.
At RC, we have strength training, stretching and mobility classes as well as nutrition talks and mental focus advice. These classes are hands on , so you learn proper form when strength training, and which stretch can really help your aching hamstring.
Other cool features are a video gait analysis and one-on-one coaching.
But let’s get back to the running! Running camps are held in beautiful locations all over the world. It can be quite an adventure to head to the high forests of Flagstaff, the cool trails in Iceland, or even the mountains of Alaska to explore a completely new place in a way that you never could in a car.
Many runners are looking to get more out of their vacation than boozy beach trips or all-you-can-eat cruise ship buffets. You lead a healthy, active lifestyle and taking some time off to be healthy and active in an exotic location is pretty much the best thing ever for most runners.
But it doesn’t mean that runners don’t unwind after a long day on the trails. I can’t speak for all running camps, but we take pride at Runners Connect at making sure the food is chef-prepared and delicious and there’s a cold beer or a glass of wine waiting for you, if you so choose.
One question we get a lot when people are trying to decide to sign up is, “what if I’m too slow?” All runners, no matter what their ability, seem to have a fear of being too slow at some point in their running lives, so it’s a really common concern.
The good thing is that no one is too slow! Runners of all ages and abilities can experience running camp to the fullest and most likely there will be someone right around your pace. And if there is not, the coaching staff can help make sure that your runs still work with the group no matter what your pace. So that could mean doing and out and back and turning around a bit sooner or perhaps doing fewer loops of a multi-loop course.
The key is communication with the staff. We want to make sure everyone has a great time so we are happy to accommodate.
Now to be clear, there are probably some running adventures out there that do require a certain level of fitness in order to participate. You don’t want to sign up to run Mount Everest if you can’t run a mile, naturally, so be sure to read the fine print and again, communicate with the staff to be sure it’s right for you.
I’ve been both a camper and a coach on running retreats and I have to say, each one is better than the last. I love meeting other runners, sharing delicious meals together, running in amazing places, and sharing ways to become better runners at any age.
Hope to see you at the next one!